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J.M.C
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« on: May 04, 2007, 11:18:49 AM »


Christ is Risen!

First of all, I'd just like to say hello as this is my first post on the forum. I didn't see any "Welcome" board for new members to say hello, which I believe is probably a good idea - who wants to know about me anyway!?

My question, as someone recently received into the Church, is: what is the full canon of the Bible as used by the Orthodox Church? Is it the same as the Roman Catholic canon, or are there some extra Old Testament books (3 and 4 Maccabees for example)? The question recently occured to me, and contacting my priest (given my location) is not always convenient.

Thank you,

Jonathan
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2007, 11:44:47 AM »

What is the full canon of the Bible as used by the Orthodox Church?

Good question. Short answer: Depends. St. Athanasius says that the Septuagint with what we now wrongly call the "Apocrypha" is all good for reading. So read it.

Otherwise, the Orthodox Church does not have one, universally-recognized version of the Bible (either OT or NT). In general, it all comes down to usage, i.e. what we read in the context of the Church's corporate worship. Thus, the ancient Churches have always used the Septuagint, but, as you probably know, the Septuagint has a rather intricate and variegated text history. The three major versions are the Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Sinaiticus, and, of course, the Codex Vaticanus. But there are many other sources.

Furthermore, the official New Testament texts used in the Liturgy vary from Patriarchate to Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attempted to standardize things in 1904. Thus, most of the Greek-speaking churches have an official liturgical version, but even that has literally hundreds of small variations compared to the Textus Receptus. (Much of that has to do with the fact that the official liturgical readings add things like "at that time" in the beginning of the pericope or combine a number of different verses and/or sections of the Gospel into one reading, including some Holy Week readings that feature bits from all four at once!)
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2007, 12:42:27 PM »

I'd agree with pensateomnia, there is no set canon in the Orthodox Church. Here's what Chrysostom and Auxentios had to say about the issue:

"Suffice it to say that this principle (the marriage of practice and authority...) accounts for the fact that, today (as was so vividly apparent at the unfortunate Pan-Orthodox Synod of Rhodes in 1961), Greek theological thinkers fully accept the Apocrypha, while some contemporary Russian theologians express reservations about them. Yet the unity of the two Churches prevails. It is not that two attitudes prevail in one Church, but that the two attitudes define and constitute the position of the One Church." - Archbp. Chrysostomos and Bp. Auxentios, Scripture and Tradition, (Center For Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1999), pp. 21-22

I personally don't find this to be a satisfying answer from an epistemological perspective, but it's one of the better (and few) attempts at facing the issue and giving a possible Orthodox answer to the problem.

The following threads might give some more information (though I wouldn't agree now with some of the conclusions I and others came to then):

Orthodoxy or Catholicism? The Scriptural Canon...
Question Concerning EO Canon of Scripture
Sources that verify the Canonicity of the Holy Bible
Different books of the Bible by jurisdiction
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2007, 03:38:19 PM »

Father John Matusiak on the OCA website answers this question in this manner "The Old Testament books to which you refer -- know in the Orthodox Church as the "longer canon" rather than the "Apocrypha," as they are known among the Protestants -- are accepted by Orthodox Christianity as canonical scripture. These particular books are found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, but not in the Hebrew texts of the rabbis.

"These books -- Tobit, Judah, more chapters of Esther and Daniel, the Books of Maccabees, the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Book of Sirach, the Prophecy of Baruch, and the Prayer of Manasseh -- are considered by the Orthodox to be fully part of the Old testament because they are part of the longer canon that was accepted from the beginning by the early Church.

"The same Canon [rule] of Scripture is used by the Roman Catholic Church. In the Jerusalem Bible (RC) these books are intermingled within the Old Testament Books and not placed separately as often in Protestant translations (e.g., KJV). "

The Oxford Ecumenical Bible does include some "orthodox additional" psalms in addition to the "longer canon" and discusses some of the jursidictional variation between Greek and Slavic canon.

Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2007, 04:00:53 PM »

Some orthodox people include the Book of Enoch in the longer canon too.
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2007, 04:24:22 PM »

Thomas,

Quote
"The Old Testament books to which you refer -- know in the Orthodox Church as the "longer canon" rather than the "Apocrypha,"

Fwiw, Jerome was the first person to call the books "apocrypha," though Jerome rejected them. "Readable books" would also be a term from the early Church, though again it would imply a rejection from the canon. I guess you might not like deuterocanonical either, because that would imply that they are somehow different from the rest of scripture (a "second canon"), though the Catholics don't seem to have a problem with it. Maybe that's the problem... the term is too Roman Catholic. I can see what Fr. John prefers the term "longer canon".

Quote
are accepted by Orthodox Christianity as canonical scripture.

Sort of. Everyone from Bp. Kallistos to Theodore G. Stylianopoulos to Michael Pomazansky recognize that there is a distinction between the apocryphal books and the rest of scripture, with most also recognizing that the former is "on a lower footing," or less authoritative. At best, the answer of Fr. John is imprecise and misleading.

Quote
These particular books are found only in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, but not in the Hebrew texts of the rabbis.

Yeah. I've noticed a funny thing. The Church Fathers were nowhere near as much against the Hebrew canon as modern Orthodox/Catholics. Not only did people like Jerome think the Hebrew superior and follow it in rejecting the apocryphal books, but there was a widespread connection seen by many Church Fathers between the Hebrew letters and the size of the canon. Athanasius, for example, said:

"There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews..."

This connection with a the Hebrew language (and to some extent biblical canon) is an idea also explicitly mentioned by Jerome, Origen, Hilary, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory the Theologian, Epiphanius, and John of Damascus.


Quote
"These books -- Tobit, Judah, more chapters of Esther and Daniel, the Books of Maccabees, the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, the Book of Sirach, the Prophecy of Baruch, and the Prayer of Manasseh -- are considered by the Orthodox to be fully part of the Old testament because they are part of the longer canon that was accepted from the beginning by the early Church.

Completely wrong. This is totally incorrect in more ways than one. Hilary of Poitiers, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory the Theologian, the Apostolic Canons, Amphilocius of Iconium, Rufinus, Epiphanius, John of Damascus, Junilius, and Jerome all rejected some or all of the apocryphal books. No one accepted the full biblical canon as held by Catholics until the late 4th century. No one through the 4th century included the seven Catholic apocryphal books and also things like the Prayer of Manasseh.

Quote
"The same Canon [rule] of Scripture is used by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholics accept the Prayer of Manasseh? They accept 3 Maccabees? This will be news to them!
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2007, 04:58:21 PM »

The Orthodox Church accepts the Septuagint as the Old Testament Canon. I am sorry if Father Matusiak whom I quoted made errors but he is a priest and I am not and I felt his  expression was cloder to the current Orthodox Mind on the matter. I believe he was trying to explain it to a non-orthodox person in terms they would understand.  One of the interesting facts that you did leave out was that the Septuagint is these best example of the Scriptures that Jews used at the time of Christ. The Jewish canon actually was finalized after the New Testament Canon was completed at the councils, and was actuaklly codified in reaction to the Christian councils as the Jewish rabbis felt that they wished to define who they were and not leave it to the imperial chrisan councils, prior to that period it was just as wandering and unset as the Christian canon was.

Sadly we do not currently have an Orthodox English translation of the Septuagint, although I hear that it is coming soon.

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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2007, 05:20:28 PM »

Quote
The Orthodox Church accepts the Septuagint as the Old Testament Canon.

Well, which one? Did you know that, when it was originally made, it didn't have all the books in it that you are claiming to accept? They added some books after the Septuagint had already been created. And the Catholics don't accept all of those books. I would agree that the early Christians mostly used the Greek translation of the Scriptures, but to speak of "the Septuagint," as though there was one, set, agreed upon canon, isn't quite correct.

Quote
One of the interesting facts that you did leave out was that the Septuagint is these best example of the Scriptures that Jews used at the time of Christ.

Well, they used more than the Greek (e.g., targums), but I wouldn't dispute that the early Christians for the most part used the Greek. That's what their audience would understand, and pretty much no one (not even most Jews) understood Hebrew at that point.

Quote
The Jewish canon actually was finalized after the New Testament Canon was completed at the councils, and was actuaklly codified in reaction to the Christian councils as the Jewish rabbis felt that they wished to define who they were and not leave it to the imperial chrisan councils, prior to that period it was just as wandering and unset as the Christian canon was.

I'm not sure which councils you are referring to? Jamnia? Hippo? Carthage? Rome?

I don't mean to be attacking you personally, Thomas, or Fr. John for that matter. I suppose this is just an issue that I get wrapped up in, as I think it's quite interesting.
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2007, 05:27:03 PM »

Here is a summary from wikipedia on the Jewish use of the Septuagint;
"By the 3rd century BC, Jewry was situated primarily within the Hellenistic world. Outside of Judea, many Jews may have needed synagogue readings or texts for religious study to be interpreted into Greek, producing a need for the LXX. Alexandria held the greatest diaspora Jewish community of the age and was also a great center of Greek letters. Alexandria is thus likely the site of LXX authorship, a notion supported by the legend of Ptolemy and the 72 scholars. The Septuagint enjoyed widespread use in the Hellenistic Jewish diaspora and even in Jerusalem, which had become a rather cosmopolitan (and therefore Greek-speaking) town. Both Philo and Josephus show a reliance on the Septuagint in their citations of Jewish scripture.

Starting approximately in the 2nd century, several factors led most Jews to abandon the LXX. Christians naturally used the LXX since it was the only Greek version available to the earliest Christians; and since Christians, as a group, had rapidly become overwhelmingly gentile and, therefore, unfamiliar with Hebrew. The association of the LXX with a rival religion may have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars. Perhaps more importantly, the Greek language — and therefore the Greek Bible — declined among Jews after most of them fled from the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire into the Aramaic-speaking Persian Empire when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Instead, Jews used Hebrew/Aramaic manuscripts later compiled by the Masoretes; and authoritative Aramaic translations, such as those of Onkelos and Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel.

What was perhaps most significant for the LXX, as distinct from other Greek versions, was that the LXX began to lose Jewish sanction after differences between it and contemporary Hebrew scriptures were discovered. Even Greek-speaking Jews — such as those remaining in Palestine — tended less to the LXX, preferring other Jewish versions in Greek, such as that of Aquila, which seemed to be more concordant with contemporary Hebrew texts."

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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2007, 05:30:28 PM »

Here is the wikipedia quote on the Christian use:
The early Christian Church continued to use the Old Greek texts since Greek was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time, since Greek was the language of the Church, and since the Church Fathers tended to accept Philo's account of the LXX's miraculous and inspired origin. Furthermore, Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament quoted from the Old Greek.

When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translation of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew that was then available. He came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint[4]. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by his contemporaries.

The Hebrew text diverges in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ, and the Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church continue to use it in their liturgy today, untranslated. Many modern critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Masoretic text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, undeniably corrupt, or ambiguous.

Many of the oldest Biblical verses among the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the LXX than with the Masoretic text (although the majority of these variations are extremely minor, e.g. grammatical changes, spelling differences or missing words, and do not affect the meaning of sentences and paragraphs).[5][6][7] This confirms the scholarly consensus that the LXX represents a separate Hebrew-text tradition from that which was later standardized as the Masoretic text.[8][9]

Of the fuller quotations in the New Testament of the Old, nearly one hundred agree with the modern form of the Septuagint[10] and six agree with the Masoretic Text.[11] The principal differences concern presumed Biblical prophecies relative to Christ."

Thanks for your explainations they are more information than I had before.  I assume that once an English Septuagint is translated that that will be come our standard for the LXX. I look forward to that day with great anticipation, in the meantime, I happily use my Oxford Ecumenical and its explanations about the differences even among the orthodox jursidictions.

Thomas
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2007, 05:43:57 PM »

Maybe some of this has been said already, but I'll go ahead and offer an answer from my understanding of the Biblical canon.  The Orthodox accept as canonical the same 66 books (39 OT & 27 NT as these are organized in most of today's Bibles) as do Roman Catholics and most Protestants.  The difference is how we regard the deuterocanonical (apocryphal) OT books.  Protestants reject them altogether, whereas the Roman Council of Trent (in opposition to the Protestant reformers) proclaimed them equal in authority to the rest of the Old Testament.  Someone else here already mentioned that the Orthodox tend to stand somewhere between the total rejection of the Protestants and the unqualified acceptance of Trent.  We recognize the deuterocanonical writings as very informative references to the history of the Jewish people between the close of the Jewish canon (Malachi) and the appearance of the Christ, and as powerful witnesses to godly spirituality and morality, but we don't grant them the same inspired authority that we do the rest of the Jewish canon.

Without listing all the additional books, I'll just summarize which books are included in the longer canons used by both the RC and EO churches.  The RC and EO churches both accept 8 additional books plus additions to the Jewish books of Esther and Daniel.  Among the EO churches, the Greek and Slavonic churches accept another 4 books that the RCs don't accept, and the Slavonic Bible includes one book that even the Greeks don't accept.
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2007, 12:25:50 AM »


Thank you everyone for your replies! Looks like it's not quite as clear cut as I thought, but then again as I'm not a Protestant having a less than dogmatically fixed canon is not essential for my faith. I will certainly be reading the books of Tobit, Judith, those of Maccabees etc. when I can. I've found them online as part of Catholic Bible (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/) and have already read Tobit.

But the lack of universal agreement on the canon leads me to another question: the Orthodox Study Bible will be bringing out their Old Testament next year. What will be in their canon? I couldn't find out anything from their website. I have the NT and Psalms Orthodox Study Bible, and I notice they don't have a Psalm 151!! Undecided
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2007, 07:59:26 AM »

J.M.C, the Cannon of Christian Scripture has never been defined. As such, any copy of the Holy Scriptures you receive can only be considered complete in so far as the books within it are recognised by the Bishop of the area without any others.

Correct me if I have the wrong saint please but I believe it was St. Athanasius who listed all of the OT books without Esther. 2 Esdras (which is traditionally in the English Bible) is accepted by Russia and Ethiopia but not by the Copts nor the Greeks and is known to have sections which are not authentic [but nevertheless make for deep spiritual reading]. The Book of Enoch is part of the Ethiopian Cannon.

The copy of the Orthodox Study Bible you have (so I believe) was written for Protestants who might be interested in learning a bit about Orthodoxy.

I have found that whilst it's good for getting an idea about unfamiliar passages, deep studies are not provided by it. This is also why Psalm 151 does not appear. The text of the Orthodox Study Bible is actually the NKJV; only the notes are Orthodox and often you will note (especially in the Psalms) that the notes say the translation is in error.

Might I suggest http://www.e-sword.net/ for a downloadable Bible in many languages. [Personally I have the KJV with Strong's numbers, the KJVA, the DRB, the LXX, the GNT with Strong's numbers and the HOT (see the site for what all these stand for).]

I understand the term 'deuterocannonical' to mean the 'second cannon'. In other words, the first cannon is the universally accepted cannon (if you like, the catholic cannon) which noone doubts, are completely correct and may be used to prove doctrine. The second cannon is the books which are accepted locally only, make for beneficial spiritual reading but may or may not be completely correct and/or may not be used to prove doctrine although may be used to support doctrine. Somebody please say if I'm wrong on that thanks.

Might I say that it's brave of you to believe in your part of the world. May I please ask who your Bishop is and which branch of The Church you are connected to?
~~~

Mate J.M.C, it must be said that your insistance on finding a complete Cannon has a Protestant spirit behind it.

To be truly Orthodox you must realise that authority rests with Christ and His bishops not with what the Holy Scriptures alone say. If you have any questions, be faithful and perhaps write them down if you can so that when you are able to contact your bishop (perhaps through your priest) you will be able to ask. But don't say anything against your bishop even if you think your bishop is a little off-track - it may be a test for you. (Of course if it's a matter of heresy then it's a different situation.)

In other words, if your bishop says 3 Maccabees is in then it's in; but if your bishop says 3 Maccabees is out then it's not in.
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2007, 10:17:37 AM »

Quote
it must be said that your insistance on finding a complete Cannon has a Protestant spirit behind it.

Not really... many of the early Fathers seemed quite insistent that there was a certain number of books in the canon (they just disagreed with others about what those books were). John Chrysostom rebukes his parish for knowing all the names of famous athletes and politicians and such, but not knowing how many books are in the Bible. To him, the answer is obvious and certain. But 200 miles away there was probably a bishop with a different--though possibly just as certain--opinion about what was in the Bible. It's not protestant to want to know what is in the book that is the primary literary record for your faith. I've actually come across quite a few things in the early Church that, if someone took the same approach today, would be labeled "protestant" (e.g., the certitude that Symeon the New Theologian said that Christians should have about their own salvation).
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2007, 04:51:44 AM »


Hello Didymus, sorry for being slow in replying to you.

First of all, let me say that before joining this forum I had a good look around and joined because I felt there was a lot of well-informed people here - crucially, including members of the clergy - and that I respect the posters here a lot. I have also learned much from just the small amount of time I've spent here, and am encouraged to post here more frequently. However... I am a member of a few other forums and as such am under no allusions as to what can truly be gained from the many discussion sites available on the WWW. The time I spend on the internet is incredibly wasteful in the main, and while there are certainly worse ways I could waste time that should be spent in prayer, I am convinced that much of my time spent on foums is indeed wasteful.

My point is, don't read anything more into my "insistence" of knowing a fixed canon of scriptures than a slight addiction to posting on forums  Tongue I didn't feel I was being insistent anyway, merely asking for clarification. It's certainly a question I should ask my priest, and the replies on this forum are a useful addition to what he will say; never a replacement.

As to your point about asking for clear definitions, it might not be so much a "Protestant" thing, as a "Western" thing in general; after all, the Catholics have also dogmatically defined the complete canon of scriptures, albeit differently to the Protestants. I do agree that this way of thinking can cause problems, and may even have led to the Reformation in a round about way. I am a westerner, with 1000 years of this kind of thinking surrounding my up bringing, so I do admit I need more practice in attaining an Orthodox phronema. Thank you for the links.

Quote
Might I say that it's brave of you to believe in your part of the world. May I please ask who your Bishop is and which branch of The Church you are connected to?

I am part of the Archdiocese of Parishes of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe, ultimately under the Ecumenical Patriarch. My Bishop is Bishop Basil of Amphipolis. However in China I worship at the Russian Embassy (when they have services) which is, I presume, under the Patriarch of Moscow.
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2007, 09:16:29 AM »

Asteriktos, I see your point and realise that you are probably much more informed on this issue than I am. I was just stating what appeared to be the case to me and see now that I may be wrong. Please forgive me any offence I may have caused.

J.M.C, firstly, please forgive me in light of what I just said to Asteriktos. You may well be right about it being a Western thing. I'm entirely of British background but perhaps being in Australia (which is after all east of the Far East) has altered my outlook ;-) Thank you for saying explaining that you are from western Europe. Am I allowed to ask which country as I thought you were born in China until your last post.

Thank you.
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« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2010, 10:26:04 PM »

Here is the Canon of Scriptures from the Council of Carthage and ratified by the Second Council of Nicea:  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xv.iv.iv.xxv.html
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2010, 01:47:40 AM »

Despite what people say, there is no fixed Orthodox canon, and there will never be one without another Ecumenical Council.
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« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2010, 10:04:47 AM »

Despite what people say, there is no fixed Orthodox canon, and there will never be one without another Ecumenical Council.

Will you please provide documentation for this statement.

 All clergy I have spoken and articles/books Ihave read, including some bishops, state that this is untrue, that the Septuagint and the New Testament are the canonical scriptures of the Eastern Orthodox Church and are a part of Holy Tradition. This canon of scripture is used in the texts of the Divine Liturgy and also in  the daily services of Orthros, Compline, and Vespers at various times of the year.

Bishop Isiah of Denver (GOA) notes that an authoritive canon of holy spriptures was completed at the Sixth Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople in 680 AD. Canon II of that Council ratifies the First through the Fifth Ecumenical Councils, as well as the local councils at Carthage (255 AD), Ancyra (315 AD), Neocaesaria (315 AD), Gangra (340 AD), Antioch (341 AD), Laodicea (364 A), Sardica (347 AD), Constantinople (394 AD), and Carthage (419 AD). You may read this in his article Can You Tell Me Which Translation The Eastern Orthodox Church Uses and Why?
by His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Proikonisou and Presiding Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver
located at http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/scripturesinthechurch.htm

Likewise Rev. George C. Papademetriou  notes similar information with documentation in his text What Is The Holy Bible? by Rev. George C. Papademetriou, Ph.D., Director of the Library and Instructor of Systematic Theology, Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology., Brookline, Massachusetts., 1986., pp.3-4).  a portion of that same article is available at http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/scripturesinthechurch.htm

Thomas

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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2010, 02:55:52 AM »

We all know that the Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint. The question is, which Septuagint? And which books, specifically? 3 and 4 Maccabees? How many books of Esdras, and which versions? Nehemiah? Which of the various additions to the book of Daniel? What about the Epistle to the Hebrews?  That was not written by Paul - and yet the list of New Testament texts I read says 'the Epistles of St Paul' and makes no mention of the additional epistle to the Hebrews. It's ambiguous. At least the Catholics, in the Council of Trent, clearly established a specific canon including an authoritive canonical trasnlation. No such thing exists in the East. The fact that we are having this conversation proves that. If there was a clear list which gave the specific books (rather than just saying "the Septuagint", because that is an ambiguous phrase in itself), we'd be able to refer to it, but we can't.
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2010, 08:26:31 AM »

We all know that the Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint. The question is, which Septuagint? And which books, specifically? 3 and 4 Maccabees? How many books of Esdras, and which versions? Nehemiah? Which of the various additions to the book of Daniel? What about the Epistle to the Hebrews?  That was not written by Paul - and yet the list of New Testament texts I read says 'the Epistles of St Paul' and makes no mention of the additional epistle to the Hebrews. It's ambiguous. At least the Catholics, in the Council of Trent, clearly established a specific canon including an authoritive canonical trasnlation. No such thing exists in the East. The fact that we are having this conversation proves that. If there was a clear list which gave the specific books (rather than just saying "the Septuagint", because that is an ambiguous phrase in itself), we'd be able to refer to it, but we can't.
Yes, what did we Orthodox do until the council of Trent?!
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« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2010, 08:42:52 AM »

We all know that the Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint. The question is, which Septuagint? And which books, specifically? 3 and 4 Maccabees? How many books of Esdras, and which versions? Nehemiah? Which of the various additions to the book of Daniel? What about the Epistle to the Hebrews?  That was not written by Paul - and yet the list of New Testament texts I read says 'the Epistles of St Paul' and makes no mention of the additional epistle to the Hebrews. It's ambiguous. At least the Catholics, in the Council of Trent, clearly established a specific canon including an authoritive canonical trasnlation. No such thing exists in the East. The fact that we are having this conversation proves that. If there was a clear list which gave the specific books (rather than just saying "the Septuagint", because that is an ambiguous phrase in itself), we'd be able to refer to it, but we can't.

Not only that: there are even different versions of the Patriachal Text that everyone holds as the LXX Par Excellence.

It's not so terribly confusing. The only book-level variables are IV Maccabees and III Esdras (Apocalypse of Ezra). The former has mostly fallen out of favor, and is only included in the appendix of Greek Bibles, if at all. The latter is included in Slavic Bibles.

The "additions" to Daniel are included in Orthodox Bibles, as are the "additions" to Esther. Ezra-Nehemiah sometimes appear together as I Esdras, but other times they're separate; no material difference there.

The Psalms of Solomon, a book that appears in some versions of the Septuagint, is not canonical in any Christian communion, AFAIK.

But in any case, the Bible is a consistent whole. If one Bible has IV Maccabees and the other has III Esdras, it's not a big deal because neither of them contain novel theology that cannot also be supported elsewhere. We do not treat the Bible as a reference book for every bit of theology, so it's not so important to have it scientifically precise. The various Orthodox Churches are faithful to the Septuagint they have been given, and that's more important than making sure every dot and tiddle is exactly the same in every one.

We certainly should not dogmatize the canon (à la Trent) unless people start committing heresy related to it. There is no real reason to do so. The only reason is for preciseness, but that's not ultimately so important.
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